Since 1976 religious from Poland and Germany have been meeting at regular occasions; our Brother Christopher, who did much work in eastern Europe before the collapse of communism, initiated these meetings to further reconciliation between Protestant and Catholic, German and Polish. The group – known in his memory as ‘Christophorus’ – consists now of both members who knew Christopher, but also those who have joined since then. This year it gathered in a town called Otwock, a former spa town to the south east of Warsaw. The history of this contested country and its peoples was a living background to our reflections and prayer. As we learned, many Poles are unaware how diverse their country has been; Warsaw in 1938 for example had less than a half of its population Roman Catholic. We made a short pilgrimage to the abandoned Jewish cemetery in Otwock, no grave later than 1942, in silence, some of us placing a stone on a grave or two and offering a prayer for those whose bones are there and their relatives who became ash.
A sombre context in some ways, but to meet with sisters and brothers from Germany and Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, with a prayerful support for a Christian commitment to reconciliation in our much distressed Europe was something for which to give thanks.
Fr Thomas CR